Creating free spaces

A high-quality, aesthetically pleasing interior design based on light and flexible structures: With its modular “D2” building kit, Wagner Living has launched a revolutionarily sustainable system that offers new perspectives.
by Anna Moldenhauer | 8/10/2022

The “D2” system was developed by designers Stefan Diez and Dominik Hammer together with the architecture practice Gonzalez Haase and the furniture makers at Wagner Living – and is now ready to be marketed. Since the initial presentation of a prototype back in 2020, it has been utilized as an architectural building kit in countless case studies and on various scales – be it in the new office of Art Director Mirko Borsche, in exhibitions at the Museum of Applied Arts Cologne, at Berlin’s Kunstgewerbemuseum, in pop-up stores, or in the in-house WLAB. “The ‘D2’ system stands on two firm pillars: The one is the furniture technology, the other the parametric system that was always planned together with the architects,” explains Stefan Diez. Although Wagner Living uses the modular kit to develop complex structures and furniture items, the construction is surprisingly simple: The tables, shelves, and room dividers are built using honeycomb panels of polished aluminum or cardboard coated matte black, combined when required with translucent panels of polycarbonate. Specially created aluminum profiles hold the high-grade panels together, with the final element being a nylon fitting. Individual plotted printing is also available if desired. Intuitively comprehensible, with “D2” you can make a customized, dynamic spatial solution simply and with no tools required. “Thanks to the flexible system, you need no dry walling,” comments owner Peter Wagner. And with a view to sustainability, “D2” is also trailblazing: Each detail of the modular structure has been conceived with the circular economy in mind, can be used and re-used countless times, and can then be separated into the individual materials for recycling. Packed flat, the “D2” takes up little space for transportation and storage. And given that the construction is intuitive, it can readily be assembled in cooperation with local tradespeople.

The “D2” system is sustainable in all respects, and yet when it comes to calculating the carbon footprint, it would come out second compared to chipboard or MDF. A study produced by Diez Office under the direction of Madeleine K. Wieser explains why: “The current way of defining the sustainability of a product in terms of its carbon footprint ignores the overall picture and does not reflect the full circular potential of the materials used. A piece of chipboard, the manufacture of which often involves toxic materials such as formaldehyde that are either not recycled or lead to dangerous waste materials in new panels, comes out far more sustainable when measured in terms of its carbon footprint than an aluminum honeycomb panel, even though the latter lasts longer, can be re-used more often, and can be recycled as good as infinitely. ‘D2’ exclusively uses mono-materials that are ideal for the circular economy,” Wieser explains. Wooden materials such as chipboard and MDF, or so her research shows, therefore as a rule have a negative carbon footprint as the carbon that is bound in the forestry phase is factored in. This picture is deceptive, since “if a chipboard panel gets burned, the bound carbon is released into the atmosphere again, which in the final instance can lead to a carbon footprint that is higher than that of an aluminum honeycomb panel if the latter is recycled several times,” Wieser suggests. Moreover, back in 2019 a study by TU Darmstadt already disproved the widespread assumption that multiple recycling of paper fibers leads to a reduction in fiber lengths and strength levels. Up to 25 recycling cycles are possible, or so the scientists’ results show, without this significantly impairing the quality of the material.

Making it simple

Wagner Living recently offered a taste of what is to come at the next Orgatec in an event at Cologne’s Designpost: For an internal workshop including a keynote by Peter Wagner and Stefan Diez, moderated by Tobias Lutz of Architonic, a large section of the Designpost gallery was outfitted with the “D2” system. In the course of this, Wagner Living subdivided the area into different zones: For the central zone, the “D2” system functioned as a desk. For the presentation of chairs by Wagner Living, the team presented the “D1” designed by Stefan Diez, which reduces strain on the back, and used the honeycomb panels to build shelves, room dividers, and side tables. Also at hand to be explored was the “3D One”, the brainchild of Thorsten Franck and the first moving stool to be mass produced using a 3D printer. Wagner Living brought along the relevant 3D printer, and it was busy working away printing a stool during the event. Visitors could also get an exclusive impression of the sustainable production processes: By means of specimen materials, you could see exactly how the casing for the Dondola joint used in the “D1” family of chairs can be recycled to create granulate, from which the aluminum honeycomb panels of the “D2” are then manufactured. “If you buy a product with a short service life, then you always have to generate it anew. That’s more effort than if, from the outset, you simply go for a product that is recycled or can be individually changed,” says designer Rainer Bachschmid, one of the guests at the event. By means of an excerpt from the company’s own recycling cycles, Wagner shows most impressively that sustainable interior design and furniture production need not be complicated. Moreover, the authentic presentation underscored how deeply the company has internalized the notion of a circular economy and has already geared its production to the idea. “This is all about mindfulness and respect for the materials and for people alike,” comments Robert Edler, Dondola specialist at Wagner and a workshop participant.

Peter Wagner, owner Wagner Design GmbH and industrial designer Stefan Diez, founder & owner Diez Office (f.r.t.l.)

At the Orgatec, the leading international trade fair for modern workspaces, Stefan Diez will use the “D2” system to create a second installation at the Designpost that will visualize the flexibility of the sustainable interior fit-out system. “Architecture is responsible for a decisive portion of material wasted. With the ‘D2’ system we can make a massive contribution to reducing this,” Stefan Diez suggests, adding: “The system will in future offer even more configuration opportunities because we’ve still got lots of ideas that we haven’t yet presented, such as cladding the honeycomb panels with textile to improve room acoustics.” The flexible “D2” system thus offers users an architectural building kit that is clearly distinct from solutions for interior fit-outs devised to date, that creates new scope and promotes communication. “We don’t just move people, we also move people in rooms,” is how Peter Wagner summarizes the idea. It’ll be interesting to see what ideas Diez Office and Wagner Living jointly conjure up for the Orgatec. One thing is for sure: The “D2” system provides an exciting foretaste of a new, sustainable chapter in interior design.

Presentation at the Designpost during Orgatec

Deutz Mülheimer Strasse 22A
50679 Cologne

October 25-29, 2022